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Is the local quarry endangered?

By |  May 22, 2019

Zoning and permitting aggregate reserves is significantly more difficult these days, as the internet and social media empower a “digital mob” to derail projects that may have faced opposition from only a neighbor or two a decade ago.

P&Q engaged aggregate producers, equipment manufacturers and other industry leaders about this challenge at the 2019 Pit & Quarry Roundtable & Conference in Coral Gables, Florida. The transcripts were edited from two concurrent discussions at the Roundtable.


Neighborhood quarries are everywhere, providing for communities that may not fully understand the value of having an aggregate site in their backyard. Photo courtesy of Lehigh Hanson.

Neighborhood quarries are everywhere, providing for communities that may not fully understand the value of having an aggregate site in their backyard. Photo courtesy of Lehigh Hanson.

P&Q: Producers: What has your recent experience been like zoning and permitting reserves? Have you faced tremendous opposition in your pursuits? If yes, what strategies led you to victories? Equipment suppliers: What downstream effects do you experience from the zoning and permitting challenges producers face? For everyone: What does the future hold for the greenfield quarry? If we can’t source aggregate locally, what are the repercussions for our industry and, ultimately, the public? Additionally, what else is taking place on the regulatory front that’s having an impact on your business?

Rick Madara (Mclanahan Corp.): We don’t have to deal with a lot of that being on the manufacturing side. But some of the projects are taking a lot longer, from the feasibility stage, I’ll call it, to the placing-an-order stage. Permitting sometimes derails a lot of that.

As manufacturers, a lot of us can help with the things we can do to help alleviate the permitting process, whether it’s eliminating a pond quarry or making something not quite as tall. There are certain things manufacturers can do that might help your process.

I can’t imagine the [permitting] process [producers] have to go through is going to get any easier, and if I’d have to guess, it’s going to get much worse over time. There is no way around it.

Unfortunately, that’s the world we live in, and I am sure manufacturers will help out as much as they can. But, ultimately, it comes down to going through the steps, taking the time to do what is required and keeping your fingers crossed that you have good neighbors because that can certainly derail a lot of your hopes of getting permitting passed.

“There’s a lot of emotion involved, so get out in front of it,” says Dan Goethel. Photo courtesy of PamElla Lee Photography.

“There’s a lot of emotion involved, so get out in front of it,” says Dan Goethel. Photo courtesy of PamElla Lee Photography.

Dan Goethel (Rogers Group): We’ve had our challenges, and they will continue to be elevated. But we did have one success.

[We] were able to get out in front of the issues and meet with the neighbors and opposition to potentially vote on modifying an existing operation. But there was a give and take in that conversation.

What was interesting was when we were at the board meeting – or at the zoning meeting – the board chair actually asked for a show of hands as to who was here to oppose the modification to the special exception. There were very few hands raised due to the efforts of the local team to defuse any of the issues they had from a local standpoint. In fact, they were able to convince the neighborhood group to show up in support of our transition.

There’s a lot of emotion involved, so get out in front of it.

Jason Emch (The Shelly Company/CRH): Without a doubt, zoning and permitting is more difficult now than it’s ever been. I can’t encourage you enough to be actively involved as a company within the communities you do business with.
Don’t let the public find out about you when you are asking for that permit. It’s a big win to get out in front before you need something. Be an active member in your community before you need that permit.

The Ohio Aggregates & Industrial Minerals Association approached the Ohio Department of Transportation about producing a study that would examine the effects communities would experience if one local quarry was removed. Photo by Kevin Yanik.

The Ohio Aggregates & Industrial Minerals Association approached the Ohio Department of Transportation about producing a study that would examine the effects communities would experience if one local quarry was removed. Photo by Kevin Yanik.

Brian Hollrah (Alleyton Resource Co.): Connect through events in the community. Do the plant tours. We are in a lot of rural areas, so there’s not too much that goes on. But we’ve had bird watching groups come on site, and they love it. Having a lot where they can go look at birds was huge.

Warren Hawkridge (Hinkle Contracting Co.): One of the things we did: We were expanding in an area that’s kind of a recreation area. Of course, everybody wants to know what is it going to look like. They always fear the worst, so we spent a lot of money on 3-D modeling different vantage points that can show the public what our expansion would look like – really to show them that they are not going to see it.

Technology has gotten a lot better. Before, you had to figure out how somebody is going to hand draw that stuff, but now, with 3-D models, it was relatively easy to show it from several [vantage points].


The following transcript was edited from a concurrent Pit & Quarry Roundtable & Conference discussion.


“The digital mob has a lot to do with this,” says OAIMA’s Pat Jacomet. Photo courtesy of PamElla Lee Photography.

“The digital mob has a lot to do with this,” says OAIMA’s Pat Jacomet. Photo courtesy of PamElla Lee Photography.

Pat Jacomet (Ohio Aggregates & Industrial Minerals Association): It is a huge issue for us. We have gone so far as to present a seminar at the Ohio Transportation Engineering Conference, and we ominously called it ‘The Looming Aggregate Supply Crisis.’ There’s shock value there, but we had very high attendance.

A lot of the people in attendance were ODOT’s (Ohio Department of Transportation) – employees, specifiers, engineers. They were going ‘what gives?’ In our message, we cannot get zoning for additional acreage to existing sites, let alone start a green site.

The digital mob has a lot to do with this. The elected officials are inundated with Facebook posts, and what used to be a public hearing with a dozen people is now a high school cafeteria with 300 people with pitchforks.

It’s very difficult to deal with. You’re shouted down. You don’t really have a chance to present the facts. So what we’re trying to do is change who is carrying the message – not just us complaining about it. Get county engineers, ODOT engineers, the district folks to start saying, ‘Hey, we need to start thinking about where we are going to get our rocks for these future projects.’ Because if this quarry isn’t here and we have to haul it from over there, it’s going to double the cost.

If you just got X number of dollars, do you want to spend that on pavement, bridges and infrastructure? Or do you want to spend it on trucking? We want them to start thinking that way.

That’s kind of the message we’ve been trying to push: get county engineers to start saying, ‘Hey, what happens if you have three quarries in your county and one of them goes out of business? Or runs out of rock? What happens to the cost of the project?’

Says Karen Hubacz-Kiley: “I’ve never lost a permit. I just think a lot of it is about being proactive.” Photo courtesy of PamElla Lee Photography.

Says Karen Hubacz-Kiley: “I’ve never lost a permit. I just think a lot of it is about being proactive.” Photo courtesy of PamElla Lee Photography.

We’ve approached our DOT about doing a study on what the impact would be if you, in theory, start removing these resources. I haven’t heard back from ODOT yet, but I think it would be very interesting to look at those numbers.

Karen Hubacz-Kiley (Bond Construction): It’s always been difficult. For me personally, if it’s more difficult now. I strategically do certain things well ahead of applying for a permit. I build a list of [opponents], and I meet one on one with [them].

If I can get them to my operation and if they can see what we’re all about – that we’re not going to rape the land and make their property less valuable – I find that if I reach out to all these [opponents] first, then I have the backing of, say, the select board or conservation or somebody else that could create a problem.

I think [you improve your chances] if you go to them first and say, ‘I want you to have a chance to think about this and talk to me about it. Here’s my card. Do you want to come down?’

I’ve sat with people at their dining room table for like four hours. Then, you know what, I put out the fire. I put out the fire so they’re not afraid before it even starts. And after the fact, if there is ever an issue, they have my cell number.

If somebody says, ‘Karen, I saw one of your trucks go by and it was going really fast,’ I would say ‘thank you so much for letting me know.’ I’ve never lost a permit. I just think a lot of it is about being proactive.


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